Century of Science; Hidden builders
None of the tests so far as I know made here. Curiosity and curiosity is the thing the driving force that is behind every worker in the field of research. The words and voice of Dr. Roy grape and Okinawa just and the dean of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine and a leading scientist in the 20th century WGBH FM in Boston presents a century of science produced under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is an exploration of developments in 20th century science and of the implications they present for contemporary American society. Your host voted Tory former editor of Popular Science and now director of radio television programming for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
One of the most quoted remarks in the 19th century was Horace Greeley's advice to young men to go west. If Mr. Greeley were alive today I suspect that he might tell them to go into biology. The reason for this is that the biologists have been reporting discoveries that are as impressive in their way as those of Lewis and Clark and the other front here is none on the west a century ago. Dr. Roy is a biologist who has been especially interested in the end acquitting glands and the hormones that they secrete. It is now the dean of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine and obviously is concerned with the bearing of basic biological work on such common difficulties as cavities in our teeth. Dr. grape what distinguishes the end of Quinn glands from other glands. The distinguishing feature of the end and glands method Tory is that they empty their secretory products directly into the bloodstream. This is what the
term means to secrete internally such glands are in fact often referred to as the glands of internal secretion. All glands secrete something. And these are to be distinguished from those that empty their secretion into a duck the duck then carries the glandular secretion on one of the surfaces of the body. Examples are the salivary glands here gland pancreas and the liver. These are the so-called glands the end of can glands have no ducks and as you might surmise already they are called the ductless glands substances created by the hand and lands are Harmon's. They are like chemical messengers. That is they are carried in the bloodstream to all parts of the body all harmonics tend to excite or to inhibit growth or some other functional activity of some distant part of the body. Some hormones affect nearly all of the tissues of the body as
for example the growth hormone which stimulates growth of the body. Generally other hormones are more selective in their action and they may affect only one particular organ or tissue or process insulin for example is concerned with the utilization of sugar. And this I believe outlines the essential features of the Enderton glands which constitute what we term the endocrine system as opposed to other general systems of the body like the nervous system or the muscular system or skeletal system. Well have doctors known that there were plans in the body and such a system. Well the glands were actually seen and described by anatomists as early as the 16th century. However they either had no notion as to what the function of the bodies might be or more often they had a completely erroneous ideas as to their function.
The pituitary gland at the base of the brain was thought for instance to see create a flammer mucus into the nasal cavity and put to it in Latin means of phlegm. And this is how that gland came by it's because their name along this same line of ancient speculation. You may recall that Dick cart believed that the pineal gland in the brain was the seat of the soul. Scientific knowledge of the true function of the end can glans dates however very precisely from 1849. And this year Barack told in England demonstrated that the spurs of the mail file the rooster did not develop if the birds were castrated at a young age when he transplanted male glands into these operated animals the Spurs developed in a normal fashion. He reasoned correctly that the gland transplanted into the abdomen was creating
some substance into the bloodstream that was carried to the legs and excited the growth of the Spurs. And shortly thereafter in 1855 Addison. Made an important observation that persons dying of a particular set of symptoms marked by extreme weakness low body temperature and some bronze discoloration of the skin and particularly of the lining of the mouth that these people were suffering from a deficiency of the adrenal gland. He noted an autopsy in all these cases that tuberculosis process had destroyed the adrenal glands. And he attributed the disease which still bears his name to the failure of the function of the adrenal bodies in the 1880s it was established that persons with. Going to her were suffering from an inadequate function of the thyroid gland gall the guider of a large firm lump pendulous like that hanging from
the front of the thing's neck. I removed all of the thyroid gland these early days often resulted in death not so much due to the lack of the thyroid but they happened accidentally also remove another gland that they weren't aware of them parathyroid gland early in the 90s and they instituted the practice of replacing the lost land through Operation replacing it with the material taken from domestic animals and this instant they took the thyroid of cattle and dried it and powdered it and fed it to the persons. Who had been operated on and had their thyroid removed and this resulted immediately and marked improvement in the health of these persons suffering from inadequate thyroid function. And even today is widespread use of just dried thyroid as a replacement for improper or
lost function of the thyroid gland. We all remember very clearly the days of the discovery of insulin Banting and best course discovered insulin one thousand twenty three. Since then the functions of all the remaining glands of the body have come to light through the efforts of many research workers over the world in the study of the Enderton glands has become a vast and important aspect of medical science now. The knowledge of these plans is a is a science in its own right now and it's called endocrinology. How has the knowledge effect of the practice of medicine. Currently. The knowledge of glandular function has had a tremendous impact on medical practice. The reason is that we now know that the glands affect nearly all of the basic functions of the body. Just simple things like keeping the chemical constituents of the blood at a constant healthy level is determined by the glands the
parathyroid glands are responsible for instance for the maintenance of the amount of calcium and phosphorus in the blood. If the calcium were to fall up our muscles would be thrown into violent and uncontrollable contractions condition that's called me. And the sodium in the potassium content of the blood must be kept at a very constant level. And this is regulated by the adrenal glands. If there's even a small change in the amount of either potassium my sodium in the blood. This will. Generally result in death. The amount of sugar in our blood is regulated to a very large degree by insulin which is a secretion of the pancreas. Without insulin we develop diabetes with too much insulin. The amount of sugar in our blood is reduced to such a low level that it's incompatible with life. But even more dramatically Let us assume as sometimes happened that a
child is born without a gland say I thought I roid gland for instance. Now that child will fail to grow. And it will remain Mandalay and physically and from tile and then it will not be able to regulate its body temperature. And well therefore always be chilly and need lots of warm clothing and warm bedding. And Suppose again that the pituitary gland should for some reason fail to develop. There are bees numerous serious effects ensue. For one thing there would be very little growth again because the pituitary gland produces growth hormone and in its absence there would be just a minimal amount of increase in stature. If you and I. For instance had been born without our pituitary glands we would be sitting here in doll chairs quite comfortable. I have been talking mainly about faith there and glands to function.
Or to secrete an adequate amount of hormone. But often times me and the kind of diseases are caused by the secretion of an oversupply of hormone. Take growth hormone for example that. While too little produces a dwarf too much oil result in a giant. I had occasion to see a Human Giant very recently. The most impressive. Sight when he was roughly eight feet tall and he had to stoop considerably to get in and out of the hotel elevator. An oversupply of the thyroid hormone. Also produces distressing symptoms. Such as extreme nervousness and excessive body heat. But it's recognized mainly by the extreme bulging of the eyeballs and oversupply of the adrenal harm Ohm's has very serious medical consequences and these are a little too complex I think to enter into here. What I have said will
illustrate that our health depends in large measure on our. Glands producing just the right amount of harm and not too much not too little. It is important to realize too that the glands work in sort of a balanced harmony. One gland may regulate another if the function of one gland is disturbed then the other glands that are related to it may also be functioning improperly so that the whole system is thrown out of. Proper. Balanced relationship doesn't work with lead jus from an interest in the endocrinology doctor into dentistry. Well that's a rather long and strange story and centers on the unexpected in science. One day about 18 years ago. I came across a most unusual animal. I was operating on rats. The operation that I
was performing was for a testing procedure in another field. And I had to place a rubber band on the. Upper incisor teeth to hold the rat's head out straight. On this day the band slipped off. I was in a hurry and I put it back in the mouth and slipped off again. And this led me to look in the mouth. And I found that the rat had no teeth. Well in ARRESTED MAN I put the rat back in the cage and. Took good care of it and fed it to the ground. Ciao food that it could swallow. And from this this animal I was able eventually to obtain a whole strain of rats all without teeth. This animal that I came across was of course a sport or a mutation. And the defect was in the chromosomes and therefore was inherited. It is passed on in exactly the same way that Albinism is. It is a recess and
Jeanne so called. Excited my interest and they are all structures and it didn't fact change the whole direction of my academic life. This is all very interesting that you found a toothless rat grew rather toothless rats but just thought it was a toothless rat greatly help me whatever to think might say that the toothless rat probably doesn't have to think they're far right. They say she is I think the implications are quite clear. But seriously they the importance of the toothless rat dental disease is simply that it serves as a tool to gain further knowledge of how the teeth develop. Research in this field hasn't progressed as rapidly as it has in some other health sciences. Consequently there is not the same body of scientific knowledge of the dental structures that there is some of the other parts of the body. And if we knew more about the nature of the teeth perhaps we could be more effective in devising cures
and preventative measures. In other words what is essential now as a lot of basic research to. Add to our knowledge of the teeth and the supporting structures of all the structures related to the amount. It's absolutely necessary to have this information before we shall be able to make any significant headway in the field of Applied dental science. Well I think a good many of said the idea that actually dental disease would be pretty well understood in the sense that if we really did what the data is tell us to do and cleaned our teeth faithfully and went to see the dentist twice a year and all that we wouldn't have any real dental troubles it was Iraq. Well there they answer to your first question. Don't we have a pretty good understanding of dental disease now is that we actually have very little understanding of dental disease. This is the reason the Congress has been appropriating greatly increased amounts of money in the past few years for the
support of research and Nation's dental schools. And the answer to your second question when we have good health if we all obeyed the dentists advice faithfully the dentist gives you the best advice he possibly can. But it's not good enough not adequate to prevent further damage to one's teeth. Dentistry is developed as a craft in the olden days was passed on from generation to generation by the apprenticeship system. And the emphasis was solely on treatment and restoration of lost tooth structure. But in the last 20 or 30 years the point of emphasis has been shifting markedly and in keeping with the realisation that dentistry is an important health specialty. Dental education too is advancing rapidly and nearly all the dental schools are now parts of
universities. Hasn't that been true for a long time isn't the Harvard Dental School real old when. The Harvard School of Dental Medicine is the oldest university affiliated dental school. And has been affiliated with Harvard University since inception. That was in 1867. But even here it was more on the restoration in the earlier days. Yeah I see an emphasis on research and dentistry has been building up over the last 20 30 years but now I should say that the research occupies about. Half of our time and energy at this school. But as a dental specialist get the same kind of training that I Doctor word or other medical specialist. Oh yes I think it's extremely important that they do get a thorough grounding in the basic human biology so that the dentist understands the entire body as same as any
other specialist would. What you really hope is to find ways of preventing these cavities from appearing to head off this trouble is over what course cavities are only one of several important dental diseases. Well I'd like to emphasize that there are many diseases other than the dental decay and or the carious lesions of teeth. But there are already some very effective means of reducing the number of cavities. First among these is the consumption of an adequate amount of fluorine during childhood. One needs an optimum amount of fluorine just as one needs an optimum amount of iodine for instance. For fluorine the amount is one part per million in the drinking water. Fluorine occurs naturally as a trace element in drinking water but in some areas of the country as for instance in New England water
supplies have an inadequate amount of fluorine. Moreover there is a deficiency of flooring there is an excessive amount of tooth decay. At least one half of this. Decay can be prevented by the simple safe and cheap expedient of adding sodium fluoride to communal water supply used to. Bring the concentration of flaring up to one part per million. A second means of preventing tooth decay is through proper food intake and good eating habits. By this I mean that a good diet helps to build teeth that are resistant to decay. Then good diet will. Consist of well balanced proportions of carbohydrate proteins and fats and also contain an adequate amount of. Vitamins and minerals. Good eating habits
consist of simply eating three meals per day with no sweets between meals. There is no question that Sweets between meals are conducive to dental decay. Well when you speak of your basic research you do include matters of diet in that doctor group. Yes we have. At our school a a large laboratory and devoted to the study of the effect of all elements of the diet on an experimental tooth decay. As these studies are all carried out in laboratory animals we can reduce diets that induce extreme amount of decay and then we can adjust the quantities of one or another of the components of the diet and either increase the amount of decay or decrease and we can get an idea of what the relative importance of each component of the diet is due
to them. Induction of tooth decay must be a tremendous amount of work even with animals. It's a long and expensive kind of research. Have there been developments in other areas of medicine that are analogous to those you've just been describing in dentistry. Well yes developments in the field of poliomyelitis France and so have been strikingly similar to those taking place in dentistry. And I mention that the emphasis in dentistry has been largely on repair. Now let's go back to the early days of the March of Dimes the fund raising program of the Foundation for the Study of poliomyelitis. At first these funds were used to benefit the crippled victims of polio and did so by building better braces and more effective mechanical devices to take over the function of
paralyzed limbs and other parts of the body. And this was all very good. But it it did nothing to reduce the number of new victims of polio each year. Then the foundation started supporting basic research on the nature of the disease itself. And then a remarkably short period of time scientists were able to come up with new knowledge of the causative agent of polio and they learned how to culture this virus in the laboratory and the rest of the starring Carson known all mankind as one of the great. Triumphs of medicine. A vaccine was developed that of course is effective an immunizing man against polio polio is now been conquered. Through knowledge of how to prevent it rather than of finding the cure for it. This gets to be quite a gamble though doesn't it. How about cancer having cancer people have been super get over a lot of basic research for quite a long time.
Well they certainly have and I think that that's a wise. Procedure and it's the only way to assure. Cure for cancer in the long run. No other means of. Really being sure that you're working toward the goal of eventual. Cure of cancer with unremitting day by day studies of many many aspects of the cancer process and of the whole business of abnormal growth of cells. Well getting back to dentistry for just a minute. Since there is so much work to be done apparently I take the scenario where it really just begun in the basic research in one sense. I think enough people doing this kind of basic research you need more people or more money or what to accelerate this. Oh I need both way need more money but we need it
primarily to train young men to work in the field of dental research. The government is wisely sponsoring such a program but it is yet inadequate. And needs to be developed over the coming years so that as we get more trained people they can in turn train others adequately in the sciences for effective research in. Dental. Field. Is it good advice for a young person to go into biology is that what I said at the beginning. Really true. Let me say that biology is a very broad field and covers the study of all life other plant or animal. But it is the root of all the health professions. Such as medicine and dentistry and veterinary medicine. Outside of having the requisite intellectual
capacity I think the first requirement for the study of biology is to have a consuming interest in nature and in all the processes of life. The border lines between biology and medicine or dentistry are very obscure. And they help professions are really just segments of biology. If you're interested in biology you're interested in animals and if you're interested in animals in arrested in man if you're interested in man you're interested in medicine and dentistry this well illustrates why oh why there are so many persons holding ph degrees in the biological sciences working in the nation's medical and dental schools in late years. Biology has tended to become more and more a quantitative science as opposed to the more observational kind of science. In this respect it draws more heavily on knowledge of chemistry
and physics. And even for the study of medicine arm or dentistry one needs a grounding in the basic natural sciences. Medicine. Has advanced tremendously in the. Past 50 years and dentistry is fast catching up. The lesson it is learned is that good medicine is scientific medicine. The day is not far off one good dentistry It will of necessity be more scientific and less mechanical. Once we can prevent the loss of t through K the character dental practice will change drastically. And the dentist will then be able to. Render a vastly more important service namely the maintenance of good oral health throughout life. And that's going to be more and more important I suppose as the other medical specialties prolong life.
Indeed and with the present trend of our population we are. Getting. Great number of older people some 20 million people over the age of 65. But another thing that we face is that our population is also becoming increasingly top heavy on the younger side. We have so many people of school age now we have actually 40 million people of school age in this country. A recent study has shown that in Canada one third of the people are. Under 15 years of age. Goodness. And this adds greatly to the demand for dental service. One hand you must preserve the teeth through old age. On the other hand it important to protect the teeth during childhood so that they get off to a good start. Well it doesn't look as though the dentist needs to worry about unemployment for some time to come and those are not at all.
Well thank you very much Dr. great many of you may have been surprised originally when I first introduced Dr. Grip to hear that they had of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine was an endocrinologist rather than a dentist but I think you see why now. You have been listening to hidden builders with a royal grape and a Granada just and dean of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. This has been a part of century of science of recorded exploration of developments in science and their import for the twentieth century America. This series is prepared by WGBH FM in Boston by the Lowell Institute co-operative broadcasting Council. Your host Volta Torre a former editor of Popular Science and now director of radio television programming for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Director for the series lead member scene of producer Jack Dee Summerfield Bill Gavin a speaking century of science is produced under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center and distributed by the National Association of
- Century of Science
- Hidden builders
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- Roy O. Greep, endocrinologist, Harvard School of Dental Medicine.
- Discussions of aspects of science affecting modern America. This series is hosted by Volta Torrey, the director of radio and television programming at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as the former editor of Popular Science.
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Director: Ambrosino, Lillian
Guest: Greep, Roy Orval, 1905-
Host: Torrey, Volta, 1905-
Producer: Summerfield, Jack D.
Producing Organization: WGBH Educational Foundation
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University of Maryland
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- APA: Century of Science; Hidden builders. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-tb0xv110